The BritBox is now available in the UK. It’s £5.99 ($7.69) monthly, loaded with British box sets, and for some reason, it has been available in the United States for two years.
The bigger irony is that this service is the collective effort of ITV and the BBC. Anyone that watches British television knows these are rivals. It’s like Fox and CNN teaming up for the news. What the heck’s going on!?
At second glance, it’s not crazy — it’s genius. Why fight when you can work together and take every cent?
The changing landscape
People can already watch BBC and ITV box sets on Netflix, Prime and others, but the age of friendly licensing is over. Disney+, HBO Max and Peacock have made sure of that.
It’s now the age of exclusivity and all things considered, the BBC and ITV have an incredible back catalog — especially after existing licensing deals end. Box sets would include:
- The Office (UK)
- Downton Abbey
- Only Fools and Horses
- Fawlty Towers
- Dr. Who (classic 1963-1989)
That’s naming just a few.
The future of British content
BritBox’s deal with Channel 4 and Film 4 gives the impression that British broadcasters believe they’re stronger together.
It’s a move that strengthens and avoids expensive competitive marketing. Working together is far better than forcing rivals to take lumps out of each other, as seen between Disney and Netflix.
Plus, this unification is cheaper for the consumer. Having multiple subscription services means someone misses out. Imagine if Disney+, HBO Max and Peacock teamed up? It would be so much lighter on the wallet!
Taking on the US market
The reality is, even working together, it’s unlikely the BritBox service can reach the behemoth status of Disney+ and Co. It might, however, be the catalyst for taking back ownership of British-created content.
A successful BritBox may mean the next Afterlife or Sex Education could be funded by the BBC or ITV, and ultimately be exclusive to BritBox.
Despite the competitive streaming market, BritBox looks to be of exceptional value. Once it gets its exclusives back and has full access to the on-demand shows like Eastenders and Coronation Street, it could potentially write off terrestrial and cable television in the UK.
The elephant in the room
BBC’s forced TV license in the UK.
For years the BBC has been looking for a way to monetize their back catalog and with the BritBox they have a solution.
At £5.99 ($7.69) it’s a bargain, but the problem it faces is that the BBC already charges £155 ($199) per year so that a UK household may have a TV. It’s not optional — it’s a legally-enforced taxation and it’s madness!
That £155 is used to fund the BBC’s content, so anyone subscribing to the BritBox in the UK is paying an additional £72 ($93) for the content they’ve already paid for.
It really does take all the shine off the BritBox and will likely end up being its undoing.